Built to Exclude: Confronting Issues of Equity and Otherness in Libraries
Library workers, patrons, and scholars are grappling with questions about what it means to have access, to belong, and to feel welcome and included. How do library environments and institutional norms–from the ways spaces are designed and collections are organized, to the language we use in classrooms and on digital platforms–potentially exclude historically marginalized populations or alienate patrons and workers with different cultural and racial, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds? How do conceptions of professionalism and issues of privilege, class, and power impact the experiences of library workers or present barriers to entry into our field? How can we confront encoded forms of discrimination that library workers and patrons face? Is it possible to transform institutional dynamics that are othering when we face bureaucratic obstacles, labor shortages, and austerity conditions? Who has the agency and resources to change library environments that are built to exclude?
For LACUNY Institute 2022, we invite proposals that explore barriers to access. We are interested in proposals that address the problems of equity and otherness in institutional environments and that introduce individual and collective strategies for transforming libraries. We welcome theoretical explorations, case studies, and creative or imaginative proposals that examine how we: advocate for funding and combat austerity; purchase, describe, and organize collections; create and enforce policies and institutional rules; design spaces that welcome people with different levels of ability, linguistics backgrounds, and ways of learning; collaborate, support, and communicate with each other; and understand and meet the needs of the particular populations our libraries serve.